Out of Office messages allow us to communicate with people when we are going to be out of communication for a time. Personally I hate them and try not to use them at all but still end up throwing one up about once a year. An Out of Office message is basically a pass the buck opportunity to say “I’d love to respond to you but I can’t because I’m busy/travelling/on-vacation/dealing with another crisis.”
But how is this different from any typical day you are in the office? I don’t know many people waiting around to simply process and deal with emails. I also don’t know many people who haven’t communicated their time away beforehand. For most of us, a 24 hour turn around on email messages isn’t a bad outcome on just a regular day in the office. How is this different than travelling and only checking email in the morning/evening? So why put up the Out of Office?
A big part of the job in a professional services role is to provide service. An Out of Office message explicitly says “I can’t provide you service right now.” How is that the right message to send?